King Kenny has been dethroned so now the fight for someone new to sit on the throne begins. The rumours have already begun and it seems that the
bookies Gods are favouring AVB. The other contenders are Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers, Frank Rijkaard, Rafa Benitez, Fabio Capello, Didier Deschamps and even Jurgen Klopp. Outsiders are also Alan Pardew, Martin O’Neill, Paul Lambert and even Jose Mourinho. Now I don’t believe that Kloop will leave what he is creating at Dortmund at the moment while Deschamps who has not had the best of seasons with Marseille may see this new challenge more desirable then staying in France. There is no chance of Jose Mourinho leaving Real Madrid to take charge of Liverpool, I will happily bet everything I own on that! The fact that some bookies have him at 16/1 astounds me also the fact that Martin O’Neill has the same odds is a joke.
So who are the realistic candidates?
Frank Rijkaard has had an up and down career as a manager with the start to his career as a manager off to a good start as time has progressed it has … stalled somewhat. First appointment as manager was a national manager of his homeland the Netherlands where in the 2000 European Championships they reached the quarter-final only losing to Italy on penalties. He took charge of Sparta Rotterdam but only last one season as they were relegated for the first time in their history resulting in Rijkaard losing his job. In 2003 Barcelona took a chance on him, obviously overlooking his time with Sparta and more impressed with his achievements with the National side. His time at Barcelona is his most successful to date and during his five years at the club he won two Spanish super cups two league titles, along with the illustrious Champions League. During his time as manager of Barça he won his won personal accolades being crowned UEFA Manager of the Year (2005–06); UEFA Team of the Year for Best Coach of the Year (2006); IFFHS World’s Best Club Coach (2006); Onze d’Or Coach of the Year (2006) and Don Balón Award Coach of the Year in La Liga (2005 & 2006). After Barcelona Rijkaard move to Turkey and became Galatasaray manager where although he managed to achieve his best win % than at any other club he was still unable to lead them to a trophy. In the league they finished third behind second placed Fenerbache and surprise Champions Bursaspor, reached the quarter-final of the Turkish Cup and reached the last 32 in the Uefa Cup. After his time in Turkey Rijkaard took up National management again this time taking over Saudi Arabia and while it may be a “challenge” I am pretty sure that it is a well paid challenge.
Rijkaard could be a risk, but like any risk if it pays off it could pay off well, but if it doesn’t Liverpool will be right back where they started, needing a new manager.
Brendan Rodgers has done an amazing job with Swansea and this season has really shown what he is about. It is clear that he has the ability, but maybe he will need more time to show the world what he can do and prove that he has the longevity for success. He started out at Reading as Academy manager of the youth team before he moved on to Chelsea where he managed the youth team and then the reserve team. Any manager learning from a manager like Jose Mourinho will always be held in high regard. It isn’t just getting and keeping Swansea in the Premiership that has people talking about Rodgers as Lambert has done the same with Norwich, the difference is the manner in which they have played their football. With players like Leon Britton having some of the best passing accuracy in the world along with fast paced wingers, their possession play mixed with fast attacks and some outstanding performances such as their win against Arsenal where they effectively “out-Arsenaled” Arsenal, which only Barcelona can say they have done. Now I am not going to say Swansea have played football as good as Barcelona but their football has been good enough to be compared to it!
Like I mentioned earlier the only thing holding him back will be this being his first season as a manager in the Premiership. I can see Rodgers in charge of a top Premiership team in the next five years, and maybe staying with Swansea for another season or two will help his development into a great manager that I hope he becomes.
Roberto Martinez started his managerial at Swansea where as a player he made over 100 appearances and as manager set the ground work that Rodgers has improved upon. Martinez took Swansea to the Championship winning League One in the 2007-08 season with the following season finishing a respectable 8th place. In 2009 Martinez took over at Wigan, another former club and the first English side he played, for where he has been involved in relegation battle after relegation battle finishing 16th in all three seasons he has been in charge. This season, and mainly the way they battle in the final part of the season along with the style of play and the results over Manchester United and Arsenal has propelled his credibility, but for me the step up to manage Liverpool could be a too much for him at this moment in time. If he and Wigan can improve their league position by playing the football they have been playing next season and progress on from there then a move to a top club like Liverpool or Tottenham could be on the cards, but at the moment it could just be a flash in the pan.
Martin 0’Neill may not be the kind of “name” that Liverpool would want or the kind that FSG would hire but he is the kind of manager that I believe they need. He did a great job at Aston Villa with that only coming to an end because they wouldn’t back him in the transfer market and was against them wanting to sell Young and Downing and look where they are now because of that! He would be given the money if he were to be appointed as Liverpool manager and has the strength of character to deal with the “big names” at the club. He had a good start with Sunderland, although that has become a slight slump. His managerial history holds up having won Promotions with Wycombe Wanderers and Leicester City as well as two League Cups with Leicester. His most successful time as a manager came when he was in charge of Celtic where in five years he won three Scottish League titles, 3 Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup.
For me O’Neill is the type of personality that Liverpool could use. He is a true professional but doesn’t mince his words. He is a fighter and more importantly a winner and is someone who can mix with the top manager as good as anyone and won’t be intimated by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsène Wenger.
Fabio Capello has a tremendous track record as a club manager, but as England manager he didn’t do represent himself all that well, so if he was hired I don’t think it would have the fans backing, until he started winning that is. I doubt that he will be appointed as FSG had said that they are looking for a young manager to manage the club for the next four-five years and that doesn’t sound like the 65yr old Italian. Much has been talked about how much the Americans understand the game and I wonder if they could see how well Mancini has done and because he is Italian feel Capello being Italian and has been England manager could be the answer. They would be wrong. With 26 years of managerial experience where in that time he has won seven Serie A titles with AC Milan (4), Roma (1) and Juventus (2), though the ones with Juve were revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal, four Italian Super Cups with AC Milan (3) and Roma (1) two Spanish League titles with Real Madrid and the Champions League with AC Milan.
AVB had a horrid time at Chelsea and I feel that they made a mistake in sacking him, but that could come in Liverpool’s favour. AVB had a great time with Porto where he went on to win everything he could there and realistically should have stayed for his own personal growth. The move to a club like Chelsea was a little too early, but it has given him a huge learning curve and having now taken that on will be a better manager for it. If Liverpool gave AVB the resources he needs to take Liverpool back to where they want to be and again challenge for a top for finish and then forward to challenge for the league then he could lead them there, especially if they kept him for the five year contract they are looking to give out. AVB learnt from two of the best football managers the world has seen the late Sit Bobby Robson and current Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho and is an ambitious manager he is always looking to learn. With Porto AVB won 45 out of the 51 games he played, and while he didn’t have the best of times with Chelsea he did better than Mancini did in the same space of time and had a better record than interim Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo.
For me I would hire O’Neill as I think he has what it takes and what Liverpool need, but is that going to happen? Time will tell!